For those of you who have traveled to or lived in San Francisco, you may have run into a little gourmand shop amidst several gourmand shops in the popular Ferry Building that proffers tasty, salted pig parts. This tantalizing tagline is meant to provide a bit of shock at the victuals you’ll be purchasing while still comforting you with a reminder of that most beloved of pork products, bacon.
But pig parts are not truly shocking to western sensibilities. You want to shock someone – how about duck parts? While you may avert your eyes and tongues at such treats, they are much loved snacks in China. And at least this westerner highly recommends giving them a try.
The pictured items are a specialty of the city of Wuhan in Hubei province. They are coated and cooked in a marinade that includes star anise, chili peppers, soy sauce, and the popular spice found in much Sichuan cuisine: huajiao – flower pepper literally, known as prickly ash or Sichuan peppercorn in English.
The western mouth may struggle at first to wrap its tongue and teeth around duck tongues, duck necks, duck clavicles and duck wings, but soon it will be seeking out the mouth numbing seasonings and tantalizing textures. In Chinese cuisine, texture and mouth feel are prized parts of the eating experience – as important as flavour and appearance.
Different parts of China specialise in different duck snacks – you can find a sweeter alternative to the spicy duck tongue of Hubei in Hangzhou of Zhejiang province. Duck hearts and whole roasted ducks (amongst other parts) are famously available in Beijing with quite different flavourings from Hubei or Zhejiang.
So don’t let your western tongue be frightened – tasty, spicy duck parts should be on every foodie’s list. See some more about the variety of Chinese snacks here.